A motherhood statement to be sure, but should it be important to anyone other than business owners and their representatives?
Local business leaders say it’s about more than profit, more than jobs and more than feeding a community’s tax coffers.
They say spending your hard-earned dollars in local retail outlets preserves a community’s identity.
Beachfest. Fire and Ice. Canada Day. Business leaders say if it wasn’t for the support of local businesses, iconic Parksville Qualicum Beach events like these simply would not exist.
“The sponsorships we are talking about are worth thousands and thousands of dollars,” says Kim Burden, the executive director of the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce. “These are people who take money out of their own pockets and give it to community events. Those events are part of our identity, part of who we are. If local businesses aren’t successful, these events would go away.”
Burden says a healthier business community also provides jobs, especially as an “opportunity for our kids to get a start in the world.”
Businesses pay a tax rate 2.5 times that of residences. Right now in Parksville Qualicum Beach, businesses account for about 25 per cent of the total tax revenue collected by municipalities.
“We need to get that up to about 40 per cent,” says Burden. “It’s a better balance, easier on residents, and we wouldn’t have to be pulling out our hair when big projects come along.”
Burden says he doesn’t buy the argument that prices are lower in bigger centres like Nanaimo.
“I don’t think the prices are that much different,” says Burden. “When you add the cost of getting there and your time . . . our guys here are competitive.”
At least one Qualicum Beach business leader and resident agrees.
“I do 95 per cent of my shopping in Qualicum and I have absolutely no problem with the prices,” says Katherine Wilk, the chair of the Qualicum Beach Downtown Business Association. “(Higher prices here) is definitely not a fact, but it’s a perception.”
Wilk says there are intangibles other than price that boost the shop-local mantra, especially in Qualicum Beach.
“You can park your car and walk everywhere and you get personal, friendly service,” says Wilk. “I think that’s worth something as well.”